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(en) Grand Rapid Anarchists* on United States Social Forum in Detroit, Michigan

Date Thu, 03 Jun 2010 16:14:21 +0300

The 2010 United States Social Forum (USSF) is taking place at the end of the month in Detroit, Michigan. The gathering—billed as the largest gathering of grassroots movements in the United States—will be held from June 22 to June 26. Conference organizers claim that it isn’t just another conference, but rather is a movement building process. --- The forum is modeled after the world social forums that grew out of the anti-globalization movement and builds on the 2007 USSF that was held in Atlanta. There are hundreds of workshops scheduled and there will be a variety of meetings during the week. Overall, it is an event that hopes to unite the grassroots “left” in the United States under the slogan “Another US is possible.”

For anarchists, the event offers an opportunity for networking and building relationships with folks doing a wide range of political work. In addition, there are some workshops that focus specifically on anarchist organizing:

Class Struggle Anarchism in the 21st Century: Re-Centering on People’s Movement

This workshop will focus on what has been at the heart of anarchism since its birth in the 19th century – a commitment to furthering the class struggle of working peoples. Anarchists affiliated with Anarkismo and the Class Struggle Anarchist Conference will discuss the workplace and neighborhood organizing we are doing in cities across the country. Members will share their experiences working on movements to strengthen the working class, including topics on tenants’ rights organizing, workplace struggles, anti-militarism work, struggles to preserve public education, preventing sexual violence, and working against white supremacy. We will discuss the relevance of anarchist politics to the economic crisis that is destroying cities across North America, as well as the attendant racism, sexism, and nationalism that is heightened by such a crisis. We will also discuss the challenges anarchists face in supporting truly democratic and participatory social movements in the 21st century. How can we best overcome the structural hurdles to building strong people’s movements? How can we collectively deal with and engage people drawn to the rhetoric of the right? How can we build people’s power? What will it take to make a people’s victory?

Resisting State Repression, Defending the RNC 8

This workshop will include background and an update on the case of the RNC 8, anarchist/anti-authoritarian political organizers from Minnesota charged with conspiracy for helping organize resistance to the 2008 Republican National Convention, as well as a strategizing session to help create a movement response to their October trial. The RNC 8 were preemptively arrested and charged with terrorism before the 2008 RNC after their group, the RNC Welcoming Committee, had been infiltrated for a year and a half. Targeted because of their political ideologies and associations, they have been fighting their conspiracy charges (successfully getting two terror charges dropped) and preparing for their joint trial. We seek to support their struggle and connect repression locally to the crackdown on dissent and resistance nationwide. A movement is only as strong as the defense of its arrestees and prisoners, and its challenge to the structures that allow the state and the prison industrial complex to operate. Thus, the desired outcome of this workshop is to create concrete plans for both supporting the RNC 8 during trial and defending everyone’s ability to organize towards a world based on justice and liberation for all.

Are We Addicted to Rioting?

In the aftermath of recent mobilization in Pittsburgh and Vancouver anarchists and global justice activists have hotly debated the efficacy of militant street protest as a tactic or as a strategy in broader struggles for liberation. Some critics have pointed to black blocs and property destruction tactics as divisive and unnecessary, calling for a return to more community based organizing models. Other organizers have argued that militant tactics are help to catalyze resistance. In this workshop, members of POG will examine the efficacy of militant street protest in Pittsburgh and beyond as well as recent calls to abandon such protest in favor of local community organizing efforts. Presenters will share personal experiences from the streets and the grassroots organizing efforts leading up to the Pittsburgh G20 summit. The first half of the workshop will consist of a presentation on the organizing process leading up to the Pittsburgh G20 summit and an overview of some ongoing community-based anarchist organizing in Pittsburgh. The second half of the presentation will be a facilitated discussion on the role of confrontational protests and summit mobilizations in the broader anarchist movement.

Direct Democracy and Autonomy: Collectives, Assemblies, Self-Organization

For many of us, political organizing isn’t just about the demand for justice and equality in specific instances but rather the transformation to a just and egalitarian society. This starts with the way we work: from the bottom up. Over the past decade there has been a resurgence in nonhierarchical organizing based on antiauthoritarian models, including everything from small collectives, large general assemblies, housing cooperatives, participatory economic models, and much more. Through these methods of organizing, people are able to prefigure their desired society while maintaining the most participatory framework they can present. Yet even as the advantages become evident and these forms spread, top-down organizing throughout the Left is still the norm, if not in name then in practice. In this workshop, antiauthoritarian organizers discuss various models of nonhierarchical organization, along with their uses, benefits, setbacks, and successes, drawing on personal experiences and contemporary examples of direct democracy and autonomous structures.

Anti-Authoritarian Praxis in Times of Economic Crisis

This panel discussion will host authors from a collection of short essays from anarchists around the U.S. on the topic of the financial crisis, published especially for the U.S. Social Forum by the Friendly Fire Collective. Some of the questions explored in the journal are: why has there failed to be large scale radical-leftist resistance to the crisis, and how we could imagine building projects to combat the crisis in the future? Capitalism continues to expose itself as a failed system, and this panel will explore why it is critical that anti-authoritarians develop cohesive and convincing arguments for alternatives in North America. Not only do we feel that it is necessary to make transparent the structures of domination at work under the crisis, but we also feel we must imagine the tools with which we hope to dismantle them. It is our hope that this combination of analysis and strategy will be a breeding ground for new and exciting anarchist praxis in the United States over the coming years.

Occupy Everything: Transforming Public and Popular Education through Antiauthoritarian Praxis

The past year has seen the fight for access to education taken to a new level as students from kindergarten through PhD programs have united with educators to say no to cuts in education. On college and university campuses around the United States, students have utilized the tactic of occupation both as a form of protest against the continued attack on education and as a tactic in the fight against the capitalist education system and the transformation of education itself. This panel will address two primary questions: How do we challenge the systemic attacks on education in ways that not only defend what we have but also push back on the system itself, guaranteeing everyone access to education and allowing us to revolutionize the way that people are educated? And what does this systemic transformation look like, and how can we redefine the terrain from which we educate? The workshop draws on the experiences of participants in California’s recent student occupations as well as organizers of alternative models of popular education to examine from an antiauthoritarian perspective how we can proactively shape and institute the idea of “education for all.”
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This site exists to promote the struggle for a stateless world free of all forms of hierarchy and domination—in other words, anarchism. We dream—and fight for—a world without cops, borders, bosses, politicians, and classes. We’re anarchists, and we’re everywhere.
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